One of our Chamber members contacted us late last night having been rung at home by a member of ‘Microsoft Support Service‘ to tell them that hackers had managed to target their PC and were actively stealing details from it. Our member was very concerned but remembered advice circulated last year about scam calls to home PC users and declined to follow the callers instructions.
In a new twist to this scam, 5 minutes later they received a call from Pamela Collins of Quantum PC Support in Melbourne giving her ‘company ID and a Melbourne phone number reiterating that thieves were accessing their PC and stealing banking & personal information. She talked about error & warning messages appearing on the PC screen and instructed our member to visit a website where they could download a program that would stop the thieves activity.
Luckily, our members PC was switched off at the time so they declined and rang us instead.
We decided to investigate the call further & rang Pamela on the number she had given. Although being a Melbourne code, the number was a Skype Number that redirected to a call centre in the US. We asked for Pamela who confirmed her company ID but when we asked her about her call to our member she transferred the call to a senior consultant – ‘Joe Watson’.
We asked for the location of the company & were told they were at 128, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. A quick check on Google Street View showed this to be a shop belonging to Daryl Collins Communications. We asked ‘Joe’ if this was their premises as we knew the area but he then said they were actually located a few streets away near a girls school & declined to give another address.
We asked him for the technical background to the problem, he said the “Internet Infections are being loaded into the applications area of the PC, an area that anti-virus programs don’t check”.
We then pressed him on why they called this particular member of the public about problems with their PC. He said our member was just selected at random as they were calling ‘everybody‘ to warn them of computer virus’s and offer help to ‘fix’ the problem.
A number of points come out of this event:
- The aim of this scam is to encourage PC owners to visit a website & download ‘support’ software that will give this group full remote access to your PC. They will then charge you to ‘fix’ problems.
- By calling in the evening when it’s unlikely you have anyone you can ask for advice, they are relying on frightening you into following their instructions.
- Transferring your call from an Australian Skype number to an overseas call centre is likely to make any Federal Police investigation more difficult.
- If you receive one of these calls, don’t follow the instructions no matter how much they try to convince you of the immediate threat. Make notes of everything the caller tells you including contact details and seek advice.
There are a number of Internet resources and stories behind this scam:
Advice & Guidance:
- Australian Federal Police – Internet Fraud & Scams
- Microsoft Safety & Security Centre – Avoid Tech Support Phone Scams
Reported Call’s that match this profile:
- Microsoft Advisory – Phone Scam Warning Aug 2010
- CRN – Australia used as testing ground: Microsoft Scam Busted Oct 2012
- New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs – Anti Spam See June 2012 from a caller in Auckland
- Callercentre – Telemarketers worst nightmare
If you have any doubt or worries, don’t keep them to yourself – seek advice. Please contact one of the Chamber of Commerce IT Business Members listed in the Business Directory.
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